Welcome to SPACE, our adult continuing education program which offers interactive monthly courses for personal enrichment! Learn more here.

Monsters Portal

Advanced Old English: Beowulf I

Spend the time reading and translating in a relaxed manner with friends! This beautiful, moving, narrative poem is a joy to work with and I hope you will join me for a month of study.
Precepted by Larry Swain.

Big Bold Beowulf: A Study of the Poem

Always wanted to study Beowulf? Here's your opportunity. In our 8 hours together, we will delve into the worlds of the poem, examine the major critical elements, and seek to understand the poem better.
Precepted by Larry Swain.

Exploring Death's End Continuing Series

The third volume in Liu Cixin's Remembrance of Earth's Past series, Death's End builds on the setting of the first two novels, culminating in a dazzling series of events and thoughtful ruminations on their meaning. Join us as we explore this novel largely through class discussion framed by preceptor commentary. There are few series better for an introduction to Chinese science fiction than this one.
Precepted by Robert Steed and Jennie Starstuff.

Exploring Journey to the West

One of the most beloved of all classical Chinese novels, Journey to the West features Monkey, Pig, Sand-demon, White Horse, and the monk Tripitaka as they make a pilgrimage from Tang-dynasty Chang’an to India to bring back Buddhist scriptures, having outrageous adventures all along the way. Full of humor and wit, this is a major work of East Asian fantastic literature. Come along with Monkey and the gang for a tour through this foundational text!
Precepted by Robert Steed.

Exploring Mary Shelley's Frankenstein 1

Recognized as the first sci-fi book, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a short novel full of layers and allusions to other works that go beyond the famous monster and his square face from pop culture. This course is divided into two modules. In the first part, we will read, analyze and discuss the first half of the book (Letter 1 to Chapter 11) and, in the subsequent module, we’ll read Chapters 12 to 24. Among the questions we’ll discuss are: what is the scope of science? What is the story really about? What is the role of fate in the narrative?
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Exploring Mary Shelley's Frankenstein 2

Recognized as the first sci-fi book, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a short novel full of layers and allusions to other works that go beyond the famous monster and his square face from pop culture. This course is divided into two modules. In the first part, we will read, analyze and discuss the first half of the book (Letter 1 to Chapter 11) and, in the subsequent module, we’ll read Chapters 12 to 24. Among the questions we’ll discuss are: what is the scope of science? What is the story really about? What is the role of fate in the narrative?
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Exploring Mushi Shi

We will watch and discuss Mushi Shi, paying special attention to aspects of Japanese religion and culture which are woven into the fabric of the story. The class will be discussion-oriented, framed by preceptor commentary. This is a beautifully designed series that rewards slow and relaxed contemplation.
Precepted by Robert Steed.

Exploring Natsume’s Book of Friends

Natsume’s Book of Friends is a contemplative and heartfelt anime/manga series about a boy who inherited a book from his grandmother, allowing him to control youkai. Instead, he chooses to free them. This series sits at the intersection of fantasy and slice of life, and it touches on many aspects of Japanese folklore and culture, at the same time telling a story about connection and compassion. In this module, we will watch and discuss the first two seasons of the anime, paying particular attention to themes including: the iyashikei (healing) genre of anime, the portrayal of youkai in popular culture, and the use of concepts and imagery from Japanese literature and folklore in the series.

This module is primarily discussion based, with some contextual information provided by the preceptor. There will be a Google Doc for class discussion and your preceptor will use slides, but sparingly.
Precepted by Nancy "Anni" Foasberg.

Exploring The Remembrance of Earth's Past Series

Join us as we explore this award-winning Chinese science fiction series from Liu Cixin. The focus will be on participant discussion framed by preceptor commentary. Beginning with The Three-Body Problem, we will explore the various themes of technological and social crisis that alien invasion might present, as well as how they can be interpreted in the context of Chinese history and society.
Precepted by Robert Steed and Jennie Starstuff.

Fairy Tales in The Witcher’s World

In this module, we will explore Andrzej Sapkowski’s stories from The Last Wish (the first book in the now famous The Witcher Netflix series) and prequel to the main saga. We will discuss how fairy tales are deeply embedded in the stories and are a fundamental part of the Witcher’s world. We will talk about the abundant allusions to different fairy tales that permeate the narrative, read these fairy tales, and discuss how they are presented and molded in Sapkowski’s book. While we’ll talk about the TV series, particularly, the first episode of the second season, “A Grain of Truth”, we will focus on the book itself and on the fairy tales mentioned in the stories.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Frankenstein: A Masterpiece of Modern Science Fiction

In this book-club-style class, we will discuss Mary Shelley's ground-breaking novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. We’ll track the book's major themes, talk about its interesting narrative structure, discuss its historical context and contemporary applicability, and perhaps cheerfully debate some of its philosophical implications. We might talk a little bit about adaptations of the novel to stage or screen, the revision process between the 1818 and 1831 versions, and maybe some points scholars have made to help us understand this important work more deeply.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Here Be Dragons

You wouldn't want to end up like Eustace Clarence Scrubb, would you: strong on imports and exports, but weak on dragons? To avoid that fate, come and talk about dragons old and new, wicked and glorious, beloved and feared in many a tale. Python, Hydra, Draco, Leviathan and the Colchian dragon threatened Classical heroes. Germanic gods and warriors contended with Níðhöggr, Jörmungandr, Starkheart, and Fafnir. There are dragons in Arthuriana and medieval folklore. And of course, dragons proliferate in more recent fantasy, including those by Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Ursula K. LeGuin, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Anne McCaffrey, Christopher Paolini, and more. We'll read short excerpts from a wide range of European and American literature, looking at the evolution of the dragon, and attendees will be encouraged to bring in additional texts for discussion. You'll be well prepared for sleeping on a dragon's hoard after this!
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Medieval Monsters: Grendel

In this course, we'll wrestle a bit with Grendel (no sword required) and explore the murky origins of the best-known medieval monster--trying to get to the bottom of some of the most enduring questions in Beowulf-scholarship: Is Grendel a spirit, a man, or a giant? Are we meant to sympathize with him? Why doesn't he speak? And why does he have a bag? This is primarily a close-reading of relevant passages in Beowulf (translation provided), but we'll pick up clues along the way from potential sources, analogues, scholarship, and modern adaptations.
Precepted by Chris Pipkin.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Text, Translation, Film

Can Sir Gawain keep his honor without losing his head? This short classic of Middle English chivalric romance follows Gawain on a quest testing his heroism, social etiquette, sexual virtue, and existential sense of self. This course explores: first, the extraordinary history of the single, unique manuscript which preserves this poem (as it “slept” on a library shelf for 400 years, escaped destruction by fire, and was eventually rediscovered in the 19th century); second, the translations which brought this poem to a twentieth century readership – focusing in particular on J.R.R. Tolkien’s; and finally, the 2021 film by David Lowery.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

The Women of Beowulf

Yes, there are indeed women in Beowulf. Vital and potent women in fact. From the valkyrie-esque figures to the weeping peace-weavers, a broad spectrum of women characters exists as both historical representation and imaginative mythology. Grendel's Mother is ferocious and masculine. Hildeburh laments the death of her brother and son before being carried off. Modthryth behaves like a sadistic queen. Wealhtheow is mindful of so much in her husband's hall. Freawaru seems destined for tragedy. And could the dragon be a female too? Maria Headley seems to think so. This module will explore this topic using dual-language editions of texts so we can see the original language alongside translations by J.R.R. Tolkien, Roy Liuzza, and Maria Headley.
Precepted by Chris Vaccaro.

Video Game Studies

Inviting students to share their delight in, and deepen their appreciation of, video games, we will discuss examples of the art, music, gameplay, and story from a range of influential titles. We will introduce and experiment with some of the theoretical frameworks that have been applied to video games as media objects and cultural artifacts. But mostly, we will enjoy learning more about the medium and the games we already love. Aside from links and selections shared throughout the module, Gabrielle Zevin's novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow will be the only required reading.
Precepted by Wesley Schantz.

Writers' Workshop: The Different Body Problem

It's a sometimes inconvenient fact that characters have bodies, and sometimes, those bodies directly affect the stories we write about them. Writing characters who live in bodies that do not perform according to the cultural standard is a skill like any other part of the writer's craft.

In this course, we will look at examples from literature of how authors have dealt with what we usually call disabilities. Some have done well, others have materially harmed people with their writing.

We will also work with one another to hone our craft as writers who are telling stories so that we can find the new and inspirational, while leaving behind the worn-out clichés that make the lives of people like your preceptor materially harder.

Note: Texts will be provided by the preceptor.
Precepted by Chris Bartlett.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].